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Penn Premieres Into the Wild

Three men stood in the back of the Directors Guild theater beaming proudly at actor-filmmaker Sean Penn: producer Art Linson, Paramount Vantage head John Lesher and River Road financeer Bill Pohlad. Without them, the movie might not have gotten made.
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • September 24, 2007 8:03 AM
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Juno Rocks

While I was an admirer of Jason Reitman's frosh effort Thank You for Smoking, which was a wickedly funny intellectually sharp and well-acted movie, Juno is another matter entirely. One, it is written by ex-midwestern stripper-turned-blogger/screenwriter Diablo Cody, who has an uncommon ear for smart witty edgily contemporary dialogue that while a tad exaggerated, rings true.
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • September 20, 2007 8:10 AM
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TIFF: Audience vs. Critics

Three tracks of movies screen in Toronto: high-brow innovative cinema to intrigue critics and cinephiles, movies with news content for the hungry media, and pics that wow the film fans in theaters. The most fortunate--breakouts like Jason Reitman's Juno, Joe Wright's Atonement, Craig Gillespie's Lars and the Real Girl, and Sean Penn's Into the Wild--do it all.
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • September 12, 2007 8:20 AM
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TIFF: Atonement, Elizabeth: The Golden Age

It was a Working Title double-header today. First, the Oscar contender: Atonement is breathtakingly assured. During Joe Wright's Pride and Prejudice, I smiled at the screen with pleasure. He took you through these people's rooms, their lives, their conversations, hopes, dreams. He made you care about them. The emotions were believably large within an intimate space. He didn't let the moviemaking overwhelm the story, he kept the cuts coming, moving fast, the dancing was spectacular. It felt modern, up-to-date, not stuck in some deadly stuffy period past. And Keira Knightley gave a winning, Oscar-nominated performance. (Here's her interview in the London Times.)
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • September 9, 2007 8:24 AM
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TIFF: Flying into Toronto; Eastern Promises

It's nuts to take a 7 AM flight; it means nobody gets any sleep. But I was not the only industryite flying Air Canada early Saturday morning.
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • September 8, 2007 8:27 AM
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Rush Hour 3 Review: Ratner Winds Up Action Comedy Trilogy

I was agreeably surprised by Brett Ratner's action-comedy Rush Hour 3, but given that it was threequel I wasn't expecting much. This time Ratner drops the bickering fish-out-of-water duo Chan and Tucker into Paris and gives Chan more comedy and Tucker more action, with entertaining results. It will do very well, although the competition in the next couple weeks from the likes of Bourne Ultimatum and Superbad is as intense as any period all summer.
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • August 2, 2007 9:41 AM
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Comic-Con Wrap: Iron Man, Marvel, Hulk, Watchmen, Narnia, Golden Compass, Shoot 'Em Up

While Comic-Cons past have heralded the advent of such future blockbusters as 300 and Superman Returns, this year only Jon Favreau’s new Marvel entry starring Robert Downey, Jr. as the mighty Iron Man roused the fan hordes in the 6000-seat Hall H to rise up and give a standing O. The crowds also responded well to Pixar's Wall-E, from Finding Nemo creator Andrew Stanton, about a robot trash compactor left behind on earth, who is being "voiced" by sound wizard Ben Burtt, who created the whistle-language for Star Wars' R2D2.
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • July 31, 2007 4:34 AM
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Transformers: LAFF Premiere

Transformers took over Westwood last night, playing on multiple screens with crowds jamming Broxton Avenue will-call tables and an after-party on the street.
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • June 28, 2007 6:26 AM
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Coens Movie and Sicko Debut; Waiting for Jessica Simpson

Last night's unveiling of No Country for Old Men lived up to all my expectations and more. It's one of the Coen brothers' most assured films, on a par with their Oscar-winning Fargo or Miller's Crossing, with a touch of the southwestern twang of Raising Arizona. The movie, which stars veterans Tommy Lee Jones and Javier Bardem at their best and break-out hunk Josh Brolin, belongs with the Coens' bleaker films, but adds their trademark comic tone to Cormac McCarthy's tragic book. It's a faithful adaptation, a lean and spare cinematic rendering of McCarthy's western of inexorably doomed characters. The movie also touches the zeitgeist as it expresses a loss of innocence in our culture, a turn to the dark side. The ending is heart-tugging. It's going to be hard to beat for the Palme d'Or. Unless Miramax messes up the movie's fall release (it will need delicate handling, although it will earn rave reviews, because it is not overtly commercial), I see a strong Oscar run. (Luckily 42West's Cynthia Swarz is on board.) Here's Variety's review.
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • May 19, 2007 8:32 AM
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Greetings from Lucasland

I went up to SF last week with some Variety folks for a meeting at Lucasfilm's Presidio digs, complete with tour. We pulled up at the Letterman Digital Art Center on a gorgeous sunny spring day. The new white buildings fit into the rolling landscape as if they belonged there; George Lucas brought over the same Mission vibe that he had at the Mill Valley Skywalker Ranch. The big new 35 mm/Christie 2K screening room, which holds 296 removeable seats and a computer hook-up, was stunning too. (There are two smaller ones and seven "view stations" as well.) We watched a cool history timeline of ILM FX, from 1977's Star Wars through Willow, The Abyss, T2, and Jurassic Park to particle effects in Twister and the wave in Perfect Storm, as well as some trailers for ILM's summer tentpole trifecta Pirates 3, Transformers (a scary one) and Evan Almighty, which actually looks funny. (Davy Jones' eyes in Pirates 2? CGI.) The Letterman conference room boasts a stunning view of the Golden Gate Bridge. And a guy named Kevin Woolley actually invented the motion capture suit with dots! The floors are raised 18 inches with fiberoptic cables running under them. The cafeteria boasts a sushi chef and a pizza oven.
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • May 3, 2007 8:54 AM
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